Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Parental Controls for Android Phones and Tablets

Should you use parental controls on your kid's smart phone or tablet? Let's face it, more and more kids, pre-teens and teens have smart phones or tablets. Heck, all 10 of my grand kids have them (ages 4-18). There is so much one can get to via the web or with apps (like You Tube) that one might say has some content that is inappropriate. Of course, you parents get to decide. But let me share some of what you can do to help you out with your parental control decisions.

First, I am going to assume your kids are well balanced, nice and don't do unsavory things. However, they are likely to be curious and want to discover new and exciting things and teach themselves how to do new things. This is all good and desirable but with coaching by parents.

Here are some questions I think you might be asking.

  • Can I block in appropriate web sites from my child's eyes?
  • Do I need to have an account created for them on the Google Play Store?
  • Does my child need an email address?

I will answer these questions and many more in this article. I share Android Apps for Parental Controls. (I will iOS and Windows in a future article as this one is quite long). I will link to other articles that give specifics to "the most popular" or "best" parental controls apps as this is not really my expertise and there are many good articles. I will, however, share what is possible and give you some insights to parental controls.

Foundational features of parental controls are the ability to limit the apps a child can use on their phone or tablet. They won't be able to get to the settings or purchase apps without your permission. There are a variety of apps that let you control specifically which app icons they can see and which controls on the device that will work. You can change these settings of course. Another parental control feature is the ability to set time limits or time boundaries for device or app use.

You should also be able to control which web sites your child can go to. Many kids need access to school sites to perform or turn in homework so internet access is needed. However, your child, being curious and wanting to learn and explore, shouldn't be able to stumble upon unsavory sites. You need to ability to block categories of web sites as well as have the ability to allow needed sites that are blocked as a rule. How does a parental control app work to block sites on the internet? This is done by having a different browser installed on the tablet that pas the parental controls features built in. The original internet browser preinstalled on the tablet is simply blocked or hidden. They simply have no choice but to use the new browser. You will also be able to hide apps on the tablet or smart phone. This will be done with a password that only you will know.

For smart phones, you should have the ability to control the phone numbers that can be dialed and the apps that can be used. Limiting who can send texts to your child's phone as well as the numbers to text to.

Let's see those questions again.

Do I need to have an account created for my child on their tablet or smart phone?

An account must be created but it can be yours (parent) and you keep the password. Or you can indeed create their own account with their password but this allows them to get any app they desire. If the app has a cost, a means of payment must be attached to the account. Your call.

Does my child need an email address?

No. They can operate their tablet or smart phone without an email.

Can I block inappropriate web sites from my children's eyes?

Yes you can. A variety of apps will allow you to set parameters on the types of sites than can be blocked. Pornography  and inappropriate videos are examples.

Can I set limitations on what apps my child can download?

Via a parental control app, they either can download their own apps or they must have you do it.

Can I set time limits on the use of the tablet? For example only 2 hours per day?

Yes you can. Some apps let you do this for the entire device or set limits for individual apps.

Can I be notified somehow if my child tries to go to places or use apps that I have forbidden them to do so?

Yes. There are some very "feature rich" parental control apps that will send you a text or email when your child crosses boundaries you have set forth on the device. Look, some boundaries crossed might be honest curiosity and be a site you will let them visit. In this case you will be able to adjust the boundaries to allow the individual site.

 Are these apps FREE or what do they cost?

Many are FREE and some are quite good. Some have a nominal one-time cost while the very good ones have an annual or monthly subscription. If you have 4 kids and 4 tablets you will need to pay 4 times. Bummer, I know. If you use the same account on all devices, this might get by the multiple purchases and allow you to pay just once but use the app on all four tablets.

Take a look at some of these articles relating to specific apps from some folks who have researched the apps closely.

10 Best AndroidParental Control Apps by John Corpuz. November 27, 2013.

Six Best ParentalControl Apps for Android by Robyn Spoto. November 14, 2013.

How to make Androidchild friendly by Neil Mohn. March 7, 2013.

Top Parental ControlApps for Android by Steven Blum. April 25, 2012.

7 Best FREE AndroidParental Control Apps by Khaled Md. Shariar. September 14, 2013.

Here is a summary of apps from the above articles.

Kids Place - ParentalControl 4.3 of 5 Stars. 6,019 Reviews. FREE.

Kid Mode - FREE Gamesplus Lock 4.3 of 5 Stars. 47,008 Reviews. FREE

AppNotifier - ProtectYourself 3.9 of 5 Stars. 113 Reviews. FREE.

Safe Browser 3.8 of 5 Stars. 1,310 Reviews. FREE.

Screen Time ParentalControl 3.7 of 5 Stars. 1,128 Reviews. FREE

MMGuardian ParentalControl 3.6 of 5 Stars. 511 Reviews. FREE

Funamo ParentalControl 3.4 of 5 Stars. 460 Reviews. FREE

Mamabear Family Safety 3.4 of 5 Stars. 284 Reviews. FREE app but $3.99 per month.

MobileMinder 3.2 of 5 Stars. 118 Reviews. FREE.

Norton Family ParentalControl  3.0 of 5 Stars. 2,191 Reviews. FREE



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  1. Great Read! Internet has evolved a lot last couple of decades, its important that your kids consume ethical and proper content. There new Parental Control Software available in market which is Designed to keep your Kids Safe online.

  2. Every parent should read this article. You are very careful.
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